20,000 Leagues Under the Bay

Events, What's New — By Mary Polizzotti on July 22, 2011 at 8:32 am

Pier 39 attracts tourists like Dolores Park attracts hipsters. Most locals couldn’t even tell you what’s there. Sea Lions? Crowds in shorts? Hard Rock Cafe? Apparently, Pier 39 was ranked the #1 most visited attraction in San Francisco in 2010 (really?!).

What is unknown to most tourists and locals is the unusual island just offshore. No, not Alcatraz, nor are we talking about Angel. Just a four minute ferry ride will bring you to Forbes Island, the ideal place to live your underwater fantasy (or throw a sweet private party). It may boast sand and 35-foot palm trees, but the “island” is really a 700-ton houseboat containing a submerged restaurant, an outdoor bar, and 360-degree views from the top of its 40-foot lighthouse.

forbes-islandPhoto courtesy of Dennis from Atlanta

Feast underwater in the elegant main dining room, complete with a fireplace, full bar, maritime antiques, and portholes; the seafood and steak-centric menu garners rave reviews. I wish my bathroom at home was as impressive as the ladies restroom here. Located in the captain’s quarters, you can lounge on the plush double bed surrounded by dark English Tudor wood paneling, brass lamps and stained glass while you wait your turn. Reserve the wine cellar for dinner if you want a truly intimate experience, there’s only room for you and your sweetie.

Forbes Thor Kiddoo built this bizarre, yet charming habitat in Sausalito back in 1975. It launched across the bay in 1980, grabbing the attention of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” shortly after. The friendly proprietor runs the complimentary ferry as well as roams the grounds making sure everybody is having a good time. Head to the H dock (left of Pier 39) to find the pontoon, it’s the only access to the island. If the boat isn’t there, call the captain from the small, grey telephone located at the entrance to “H” dock.

Tags: fisherman's wharf, forbes island, hidden gems in san francisco, houseboat, lighthouse, pier 39, san francisco, san francisco dining, sea lions